Taking Space in Social Spaces Post Pandemic – E&OC

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Taking Space in Social Spaces Post Pandemic

I’ve mentioned before that one of my goals for therapy was to get on public transport by myself. To have freedom in getting myself from Point A to Point B and back again. It took about a year of therapy before I accomplished that goal. In achieving that goal, the offset was that I was more confident in taking up space in social spaces.

The pandemic has affected us in ways I don’t think we’ll understand adequately for many more months to come. People have been trapped in their homes, effectively isolated from support. Some people were lucky to be with a healthy family. Others not so fortunate, trapped with their abusers.

If you weren’t trapped at home because of your useless government, you were vulnerable to the pandemic. The pandemic, ineffective governments and capitalistic greed have taken a toll on humanity. And it still isn’t over.

Not to mention the social justice movements around the world that were and are necessary. People have been in a constant fight or flight mode for almost a year. And when the globe is better able to accommodate the revolution, there will be more work to do.

In Australia, our state leaders made decisions on the Prime Minister’s request. If you’re not sure, in my humble opinion, Australian politicians are as greedy and unethical as American leaders and dictators are. Don’t let the warm welcome fool you. Australia’s racial and social inequality is rampant.

No two states had the same protocols, but all states for a period were in lockdown. When restrictions eased, we still had to follow the rules and distance ourselves, wear masks and so on. Capitalistically, right before Christmas, we have as much freedom pre-pandemic.

However.

But.

I’ve identified a mental health consequence of lockdown. I’ve forgotten how to take up space in social spaces. In fact, I don’t want to leave my house. I usually go for a walk in the morning bright and early. I have been sleeping later, so I tried to go for a walk in the afternoon. But there were so many people in the park, that I felt uncomfortable without my mask or sanitiser with me. So I stopped going if I didn’t wake up early enough.

Logically, I know that these are just consequences of being inside and scared. My mind and body have been in sustained stress like everyone else. But, I feel ripped off. All that work on getting comfortable with public transport has disappeared.

I know that compared to other peoples pandemic experiences, I have come out okay. But I’m not going to diminish my experience just because it isn’t as bad as others have it. Working myself to the point of independence was a massive milestone for me. Now, it feels like I have to start over, not from the very beginning, but near it.

I had a phone call with a client, and she asked me about my social life. How’s it going? She asked me, have you been going out? My immediate response was, we’re still in a pandemic.

It’s not that I haven’t been going out. I’ve done some Christmas shopping, I’ve been on a few trains, and I’ve met friends at restaurants a few times. What is different now is that when I come home, I am so uncomfortable and exhausted. It takes at least a few days to feel like my lockdown self again – safe.

When I am out, I am 100% sure that I have my resting bitch face on. I’m laughing now as I think about it. But it isn’t funny! People stare at me, so I glare back. I have to remind myself that they aren’t doing anything wrong – I just have anxiety.

Then I have to remind myself that it is okay to have anxiety about being in social spaces again. What happened this year was not at all okay and completely unprecedented. I have to nurture myself this way. No one was prepared, and we’re all just doing the best we can.

I think also that when you work hard to reach milestones for anything, having it taken away or having to make it a milestone again makes you feel like a failure. Which isn’t at all true. It just requires work. I’m so tired of working though, I don’t want to have to work on something I’d already completed.

Nevertheless, as always, I will.

I thought about how I’m going to get comfortable in social spaces again. It starts with taking public transport properly. Not being afraid to go on a train to the city. Or walking in the heat home, so I don’t have to take the bus. I think once I’ve achieved that, I will feel confident quicker.

It also includes going for walks consistently again. I love taking a walk in the morning or early evening. Having that time to myself to move my body and be with my thoughts is fantastic.

It finishes with being kinder to myself. This year has been a clusterfuck of what the fucks. I have the WORST deja vu as I type this, so there is probably much more to come. There is more work to do for humanity. I’m not going to let this pandemic hold me back. I will be part of history.

It’s okay to feel afraid and anxious in social spaces. It isn’t okay to let it stop you. So, I’m not going to let it. I will take my time, but I will get myself back to where I was. And I will be so proud of myself. So amazed by my strength.

Because we are literally strong. All of us.

Let’s keep going.

Tea of the day – Pure Ginger

Stay safe, be kind, and feel free to reach out below!

With love and eternal optimism,

J.R. Sonder

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